Literal, as it lies off or to the back of a main road. The prefix Back was frequently given to roads lying at the rear of a main thoroughfare, in this case Clerkenwell Road, it dates from a period when most villages only had two streets: the High Road and the Back Road. When the high road became impassably rutted or muddy, the back road often tended to replace it. Earlier names include Back Hill in 1746 and Christopher Street in 1792.
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